Monday, June 20, 2022

Barbara Tuchman on politics

First 10 minutes, in particular:

"I have to confess that I am neither philosophically nor politically a Republican" got applause!


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Summer work update

I'm still working on my paper for the North American Taiwan Studies Association conference in July. Here's the schedule for the conference--I'm part of Panel B. Here's the proposal that I submitted for my presentation:

Formosa Delayed: George H. Kerr's Struggles with Scholarship and Advocacy

An early International Journal of Taiwan Studies forum on “Linking Taiwan Studies with the World” discussed a position paper by Shu-mei Shih that argued Taiwan should be studied through “relational comparison” with other countries, notably, the US. In fact, Shih argues that “Taiwan should be included in all American studies disciplines” (215). Not all of her interlocutors agreed: Mark Harrison disagreed with Shih’s emphasis on the Taiwan-U.S. nexus but concluded that Taiwan Studies “continues to need method; but that scholarly requirement is nothing less than a representation of the creation of an identity as Taiwanese by all the people around the world who identify with Taiwan” (219). And Kuei-fen Chiu connected the history of Taiwan Studies to Taiwan’s post-martial law “nation-forming project. It sought to redefine the status of Taiwan and retell the story of the past and the future of Taiwan” (221). Both quotes suggest that the distinction between scholarship and advocacy in Taiwan Studies is blurred. Chiu makes the clearest connection between Taiwan’s political opening-up and the scholarly project of studying Taiwan as a way of helping form a distinctly Taiwanese national identity. In this paper, I will explore two threads from the above discussion—the Taiwan-U.S. nexus and the blurred distinction between scholarship and advocacy—through the writings and struggles of George H. Kerr in the early years of the Cold War. Kerr’s work at this time and his uneasy relationship with scholarly objectivity anticipate the complex relationship between scholarship and advocacy that characterize Taiwan studies as a field.

Speaking of struggles, I am struggling myself with getting from Point A to Point B in my paper. I tend to get stuck in the weeds and have to try to dig myself out of the details to make a broader point about what I'm supposed to be discussing. This will be especially important since I only have 12-14 minutes to talk this time! Guess this means taking out all the jokes about how to pronounce Kerr's last name and whether Kerr is the father of American Taiwan Studies, its godfather, or its curmudgeonly uncle... [Insert bad pun about GHK as "Kerrmudgeon..."]

The Economic Resources and Development of Formosa, by Norton S. Ginsburg

I came across a reference to this paper published by the IPR in 1953. Fortunately, someone posted a copy of it to the Internet Archive. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Another new book in the former native speaker's library

陳翠蓮 (Chen Tsui-lien), 自治之夢:日治時期到二二八的臺灣民主運動 (The Dream of Autonomy: Taiwan's Democracy Movement from the Japanese Occupation to February 28). 春山出版, 2020.

I came across some excerpts from this book when Googling an article by Huang Chengcong (黃呈聰) in the 臺灣民報 (Taiwan Minbao):
The excerpts looked interesting, so I bought the book. I managed to get an ebook through Amazon for only $9, which wasn't too bad considering what postage would have been had I ordered it through Books.com.tw. (Another advantage of the ebook is that the text in it runs horizontally from left to right instead of vertically from right to left, which makes it a little easier for me to read.) 

I haven't found any reviews of the book, but just from starting to read it, I think it's written for a more general audience rather than being a "scholarly" book, but that's OK with me. Hopefully, that will make it easier for me to read and I'll actually get it done!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A bit of progress

Despite a splitting sinus headache and a feeling that working on a paper about George Kerr in the aftermath of yesterday's massacre at Robb Elementary School in Texas is rather pointless, I managed to get some writing done. I realized I have to keep the paper down to between 1500 and 2000 words (I've only got 15 minutes to speak), so I am trying to keep the long quotations down to a minimum and try to stay out of the weeds ("how many titles changes did Kerr's manuscript go through?"). 

Every once in a while I like to check out YouTube to see if there are any videos about Kerr. I found this "Wikipedia Reader" one yesterday, in which the speaker says, "George H. Kerr H. Kerr H. Kerr" about a million times. At least they pronounce his name correctly...


Saturday, May 21, 2022

More (non)progress

Had a good talk with my brother last night about the conference paper I'm working on. Same old problem, trying to go from the trees to get the forest in perspective. Trying to figure out this time which forest it is that I'm looking at and how that forest can be the forest that I alluded to in my conference proposal. Anyway, worked out a lot of ideas on the phone, most of which I promptly forgot after hanging up. *sigh*

Friday, May 20, 2022

Writing (non)progress

So since I last wrote I've developed some sort of sinus infection, chronic cough, etc. I'm on some medications that are knocking me out. I've spent most of my waking hours sleeping...